Silence for 2-5 minutes:
If your mind wanders, silently pray a simple prayer again and again, such as, "I surrender to your love" or "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me" until the Holy Spirit gives you a sense of peace and focus.
Psalm 81, The Message
1-5 A song to our strong God! a shout to the God of Jacob! Anthems from the choir, music from the band, sweet sounds from lute and harp, Trumpets and trombones and horns: it’s festival day, a feast to God! A day decreed by God, solemnly ordered by the God of Jacob. He commanded Joseph to keep this day so we’d never forget what he did in Egypt.
I hear this most gentle whisper from One I never guessed would speak to me:
6-7 “I took the world off your shoulders, freed you from a life of hard labor. You called to me in your pain; I got you out of a bad place. I answered you from where the thunder hides, I proved you at Meribah Fountain.
8-10 “Listen, dear ones—get this straight; O Israel, don’t take this lightly. Don’t take up with strange gods, don’t worship the latest in gods. I’m God, your God, the very God who rescued you from doom in Egypt, Then fed you all you could eat, filled your hungry stomachs.
11-12 “But my people didn’t listen, Israel paid no attention; So I let go of the reins and told them, ‘Run! Do it your own way!’
13-16 “Oh, dear people, will you listen to me now? Israel, will you follow my map? I’ll make short work of your enemies, give your foes the back of my hand. I’ll send the God-haters cringing like dogs, never to be heard from again. You’ll feast on my fresh-baked bread spread with butter and rock-pure honey.”
Reading: (This devotional is based on the Red River Arts video below)
Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Psalm 81 states that the voice of God is like a surprising gentle whisper. A literal translation of the Psalm says that His voice is like a foreign language to those who fail to listen. The message of Psalm 81 is clear and stark. The people of God are not listening for God to speak. The gentle whisper of God is either not heard, because of all the background noise, or ignored. The people of God have not embraced the ways of God, and therefore God might as well be speaking a dead language, long forgotten. Yet, God is still speaking; wooing His people to turn from their idols and unto the true and living God.
Listening to God speak means that we will readily obey. Those who hear the Lord speak are those who are already walking in His ways and want to go deeper in their faith and farther in the journey. Listening to the whisper of God’s voice and then obeying leads to remarkable blessings that the Lord wants to dispense upon His people. When God’s people listen to Him, God promises that He will turn back their enemies. God promises provision that reveals His goodness as our Father. The message is clear; God’s blessings flow to those who listen and obey. O that the people of God would listen and obey!
What noises in your life keep you from hearing the gentle whisper of the Lord? Are you poised to obey when our Lord speaks?
O Lord, I am filled with the cacophony of this restless world. Still my soul to listen to your gentle whisper. Help your words be clear to me and not a foreign language. May I be ready to obey you in all things. Amen.